An official statement was released regarding the Parker School Project yesterday, September 28th. The City of Cortland along with CAPCO and the YWCA confirmed that the project “will no longer be pursued.”
“It is the building, not the vision, that is at issue here,” Stated Cortland Mayor Scott Steve in the press release. “I as well as the council are, and will continue to be, strong advocates for promoting and fostering accessible childcare opportunities. We stand committed to exploring all options for our families who are the lifeblood of our community.”
Planning for the Parker School Project lasted for 3 years, and over those three years, the renovation expenses ballooned to $5.6 million dollars from the original estimate of $2 million. This combined with a separate increase of 65% in move-in costs, the project became fiscally untenable.
“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced new and immense stresses not only for this project, but also generally for agencies such as the YWCA and CAPCO.” Stated YWCA Director Kelly Tobin. “Inflationary pressures, more people choosing to work from home, parents making different childcare decisions, and the struggle to maintain adequate child care staffing all contributed to creating an insurmountable challenge for us in maintaining our involvement in the Parker School Project.”
Kelly Tobin is the wife of former City of Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin, whose administration pushed forward for final action on the project instead of waiting for the next administration that was coming in January to make the final decision.
“Despite the volatility of the past 2 years, there is still a significant need for affordable childcare”. Greg Richards, CAPCO Executive Director stated. “The state’s temporary pandemic relief was helpful for the immediate and short-term needs but this community, like many others in Central New York, are looking to the state for more sustainable, longer-term solutions.”
The fate now in the city owned property of the former Parker Elementary school remains uncertain.